Míla Fürstová – Part 2

Míla Fürstová's exhibition at Galerie Miro, photo: Miroslav Krupička

Last year, Czech-British artist Míla Fürstová made international headlines for her design of the cover of Coldplay’s newest album, Ghost Stories – an etching of an angel’s wings over starry waters. Recently, the artist opened a new exhibition in the Czech Republic and was interviewed by Radio Prague’s editor-in-chief, Mirek Krupička. In Part 2 of our 2 part interview, he began by asking about Míla’s start in Great Britain.

Míla Fürstová, photo: Miroslav Krupička
“When I first came to Britain as a young student, I kind of thought this was my English period starting, you know, I looked for influences there. I was there for more than a year and my fellow students who then went to Prague came back and told me ‘’Oh Míla, your work is so Czech, isn’t it?’ I said, well, is it?! And I didn’t realise that as I had always been looking around. But you are right about the Czech tradition of printmaking and its influence. He is mostly a painter but I love Josef Šíma and among current artists Jiří Anderle is an icon of Czech printmaking. I also love the work of Kurnatovský who taught me at university, so that there are many, many people I could mention. I can’t recall them no, there are a lot of artists I really respect.”

And the big international artists?

“I do love Picasso. I love his etching and drawings. With drawing there is something else going on than in painting. You know, line doesn’t really exist in the world, does it? It is a sort of abstract concept. I think that line is very, very intimate, the same as your handwriting. It is very recognizable. Of course, Picasso was a genius, Hockney is a genius, I love German-American artist Kiki Smith, Tracey Emin is a conceptual artist but she does a lot of printmaking and etchings as well. It is such a joy in Britain that there are so many galleries now which are there for the public. The Tate Modern on the Thames is amazing… it is such joy that one can just lose one’s self in a gallery or whatever exhibit is on.”

Do you find the time, with the family, to see, to absorb a lot of art?

“That is a really poignant question, something I am trying to resolve. I actually quite a homely (or stay at home) person; I love the quiet time when I can work but I have my children nearby, when they are sleeping. But I also need times when I need to go out. In the Czech media people often think that I live in London, but we don’t. We live in the Cotswolds area which is a very beautiful, very traditional with old stone houses and lots of sheep. It is a very quiet part of the country. But I make regular trips to London.

Míla Fürstová's exhibition at Galerie Miro, photo: Miroslav Krupička
“What we do sometimes is drop the children off at my husband’s parents in Oxford, an hour from London, who kindly look after them. My husband Quentin and I, because we are both artists, then do a marathon of exhibitions we want to see. Once, I think we saw 10 exhibitions in a day and by the end of it, I pleading and suddenly I was no artist but just a woman with aching feet. Obviously, you take your impressions back with you, you have time to absorb them and to reflect on what you have seen.”

How do you see yourself as an artist: British or Czech-born?

(mirthful) “As a human first… with a Czech heart. I always try for my work to be kind of universal and it has been a nice thing for me that people who have collected my work that the same things resonate with them,, the basic human experience. Great Britain is my home now but the Czech Republic is also my home. I am quite fluid between both of them, they both mean different things for me.”

What are some projects you are working on now?

“When my cooperation with Coldplay finished, I was approached to make a series of illustrations for a best-selling book series for young adults called Mortal Instruments and it is by Cassandra Clare. As I said before, as an artist I do not usually work for commission but I had had that experience of this dialogue, I imagined I would return back to my solo work through something like this. I am not an illustrator but it was always a dream for me to do something book-related. When I was the same age these readers are books were such an important part of my life and they still are. I don’t have as much time now because of everything, but books are important and I wanted to try something like this. So I did a series of illustrations for the book covers which have just been released and on the 17th of July we will have a launch in London with Cassandra Clare attending. So that is a small thing I have done.

Míla Fürstová's exhibition at Galerie Miro, photo: Miroslav Krupička
“But now I am doing new work and the Miro Gallery is exhibiting and featuring my new installation called The Golden Fish will Fly Above the Clouds. It is basically this show of fish which are quite large, 3x3 metres, which are printed individually from metal plates, they are all drawn in a high level of detail. My idea with them was really to kind of break the restriction of the rectangular frame. So these fish flow directly onto the walls of the gallery. And because the gallery is a former church, all white, spiritual, gorgeous space, somehow the fish fit there quite well.”

Is there anything that you would like to add, which we didn’t cover?

“Um, I would like to thank all those who are looking, you know, at my art. I often feel that it really is through those who look at art, that it really gains its fulfillment. It is not just in the hands of the artist. It really is in the eye of the beholder. I am so grateful for it.

“Last week I flew with my young children from Britain and if you have small kids you know how exhausting that is. But we got into Prague and my father collected us at the airport. It was night and Dr Smolák said ‘Let’s go to the gallery’. So we went and they had installed everything without me and it looked wonderful. They really did a very, very good job in curating and in installation.

Míla Fürstová's exhibition at Galerie Miro, photo: Miroslav Krupička
“Then we drove on to my hometown which is Hradec Králové and it was dark and raining on the motorway and A Sky Full of Stars came on. And I was listening to it and I was just thinking, you know, this really is like a dream. But if I dreamt it, I would say this is really overdoing it, and I would say it’s quite an improbable dream. But it’s actually happening.”

Authors: Jan Velinger , Miroslav Krupička
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